Shadows. Chaos. Danger. Remember these words.
When Robin awoke or came to or whatever, she was sitting opposite the strange beetle man thing. She instantly shrank back against the seat and tried not to look in his eyes again. She felt still, so terrifically still like she would never move again. Not that she could not but she would not move even if she really wanted to. There was a profound difference between the two that she would have difficulty explaining to somebody.
On the edge of memory there was something she was supposed to remember. Maybe it was more than one thing. Maybe three? Her head throbbed with the pain of what felt like a hell of a migraine. Out of the corner of her eye she aw a bottle of whiskey which was only half full. She could taste it on her tongue and there was a glass nearby with her lipstick on it. The evidence was mounting in support of a hell of a hangover tomorrow. Robin remembered none of it. It hadn’t been her lips that touched that cup, had it?
The beetle thing stared at her. She could feel his gaze on her skin and it repulsed her. Where was her purse with her tazer. The mace probably wouldn’t work. At least, that’s what she thought when she pictured those beetle eyes.
“Are you ready to begin now?” It asked.
Its eyes blinked audibly and just for a moment Robin looked at it and then looked away. She had seen herself in shiny surface of its eyes. She looked around and saw only an empty bar around them. Her heart started to beat hard and fast again. She tingled all over. She guessed it was from all the quick deep breaths.
“Where is everybody? What did you do?” She asked.
“Oh. It is you again. She said it would have to be you. The bar is closed. I have done nothing. We have simply talked until the bar closed. It closed twenty of your minutes ago.”
“Oh God.” The thought hit her like a shock of cold water. Had she been gone so long?
It cocked its head to the side and stared hard at her. She realized her gaze had been drawn back to look at him almost against her will. “We do not have much time. The spell must activate. The die has been cast.”
“Who’s coming? Wait. Who is she? Who am I when I’m not me?” She could feel hot tears on her cheeks. She spent so much time trying to ignore the blackouts that doctors could not explain but now she was close to figuring it out. She was so close to the answers inside this beetle man’s skull. She had not realized how much she wanted to know the truth. It was like a fire in her chest. Though, maybe that was something else. The fire was too hot. She trembled with the force of it.
“There is no time. She has activated the spell already. Give me your arm.” It said in a forceful tone as it reached for her. Robin was so overcome and startled that she did not even flinch. As he touched her, the fire within felt like it was expanding toward her skin. It felt like it was fighting to come out of her.
She looked down as a tattoo crept across her skin. The pain was like a thousand paper cuts being slowly coated with iodine. Her eyes watered but she was sure the tattoo was of a great dane. The Mark of the Hound he had called it. As it walked off of her skin and onto its hand, she could feel the fire and the searing pain subside. She slumped back into her seat as she watched the hound crawl up into the sleeve of its trench coat.
Suddenly a sickly smell filled the air. It smelled almost like the mix between vinegar and rot and something else she could not identify. A fine black mist started to stream from the beetle man’s pores and then its eyes and mouth and nose. At first she thought the beetle man was screaming but the screams were coming from the mist itself.
The beetle man was smiling and it looked so at peace. If she wasn’t so confused and afraid she might have been happy for him. It was a him now and not an it. His brown eyes opened and he was human. His gray mottled skin gave way to a rich brown, revealing what looked like somebody of Indian descent but it was hard to be sure.
The screaming mist floated up into the air for a moment and then streamed toward the ceiling with purpose. It slipped out of sight and Robin decided this was a problem for a future time. For now her body shook with exertion and there was a strange man with a magic tattoo somewhere on him sitting there. To say the least, this was the strangest night she had ever experienced.
“Where am I?” He asked, rubbing his eyes and looking around. He had no accent and then she felt embarrassed that she was surprised by this.
“Anne’s Eyes Pub on Bond Street. Don’t you know?
“Lady, I have no idea what’s going on. I just know that it’s time to go home. My head hurts and I have no memory of how I got here or anything else for a bit. I probably drank too much. I’ll get out of your hair and grab a cab home. You should probably do the same.”
“No wait. Don’t go. You have to explain what’s going on.”
“What’s going on? I just told you that I don’t know what’s going on. The bar is closed and it’s time to go home. That’s all I know. You’re freaking me out the way you’re looking at me. I’m out of here.” He stood up so fast that even Robin was dizzy. He was halfway to the door before she could even open her mouth again.
“Please. I need you to tell me who I am.”
He turned only slightly, looking over his shoulder. His trench coat swung slight with the motion. “Lady, I’ve never met you before.”
He slammed through the door and left only a jingling bell and Robin with her head in her hands.